Towers Watson 2012/2013 Health, Wellbeing and Productivity Survey - United Kingdom


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This Towers Watson survey found that health and wellbeing continues to rise up the UK corporate agenda with over two-thirds of organisations planning to increase support for their health and wellbeing programmes in the next two years. However, the results of our survey show that the motivations for doing so are not clear.

Towers Watson surveyed 74 leading organisations in the UK during 2012 regarding their health and wellbeing programmes and their future plans in this area. These organisations employed a total of 785,000 employees in the UK across a broad spread of industry sectors.

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Towers Watson 2012/2013 Health, Wellbeing and Productivity Survey - United Kingdom

  1. 1. Health, wellbeing and productivity Key findings of the 2012/2013 survey 88% Promote employee assistance programme 73% Flexible working options 45% Training for managers Steps organisations take to reduce employee stress Plan to increase support for health and wellbeing programmes in the next two years Only 1 in 3 organisations view the link between productivity and health improvement as essential for their health strategy Only 16% of employers measure the impact of their health and wellbeing programme on improving health 18% Fear of job loss 40% Workload/long hours 34% Technology – access to work outside work hours 28% Lack of work-life balance 15% Inadequate staffing Sources of stress Employers able to measure workforce find: 98% 97% of employees are impacted by stress of employees struggle with work-life balance 2 out of 3 organisations The topic of health and wellbeing continues to rise up the UK corporate agenda. This is demonstrated in the results of our Health, Wellbeing and Productivity survey which states that over two-thirds of organisations plan to increase support for their health and wellbeing programmes in the next two years. However, the results of our survey show that the motivations for doing so are not clear. These may be being driven by corporate responsibility and the desire to be seen as a good employer, or possibly due to a broad understanding that such programmes should help to manage absence, stress and, in some cases, benefit costs. For some this approach may reflect a recognition that such programmes can contribute to improved worker performance. And yet there is very little direct focus on quantifying the value and return on investment associated with health and wellbeing programmes. Few companies track programme outcomes and measure these against targets, whilst even fewer seek to link to improved worker behaviours and employee productivity. As a result, a third of organisations report a lack of evidence on financial returns as a significant obstacle to improving the health and wellbeing of their workforce. This suggests a strategic focus, whereby programmes and spend are targeted at key issues, is largely missing. In such circumstances, how can companies truly understand the payback on their programmes and how sustainable they are likely to be? There are opportunities for organisations to better measure the links between their health and wellbeing programmes and employee productivity; to better meet employee expectations regarding the support surrounding programmes; and to start making sustained progress towards justifying benefit spend and in the process deliver real value to the business. Organisations who report that they have been able to create an internal culture of health are more likely to regard linking health to productivity as essential to their health strategy and to measure employee outcomes associated with their programmes. As a result, they are more likely to understand the return on investment associated with their programmes, and where they observe quantifiable returns they are more likely to report appreciable positive return on investment associated with their programmes. Executive summary
  2. 2. 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Educate employees to be more informed consumers of healthcare Better understand the cost drivers linking health to absence and productivity Develop a workplace culture where employees are responsible for their health Incorporate workforce wellbeing as a key attraction and retention strategy Improve employee engagement Improve the mental health (stress and anxiety) of employees Improve the physical health of employees Improve employees awareness of their health 1 Not at all 2 3 Moderate extent 4 5 Great extent 7744 4242 2727 2020 44 33 3131 4040 2222 33 77 1515 3131 4747 88 4141 3636 1212 33 1515 4646 2525 1111 44 33 77 3636 3030 2424 1212 3838 3030 1616 55 1414 4343 2424 1414 Figure 01. To what extent are the following priorities for your company over the next two years? The drivers behind health and wellbeing – to manage absence and rising healthcare costs; to support worker productivity; and a desire to be seen as a responsible employer – are leading employers to consider health and wellbeing issues more deeply. To address these issues Towers Watson surveyed 74 leading organisations in the UK during 2012 regarding their health and wellbeing programmes and their future plans in this area. These organisations employed a total of 785,000 employees in the UK across a broad spread of industry sectors. This survey seeks to examine the changing landscape in health and wellbeing in the UK workplace including: •• How companies are managing and communicating their programmes. •• What value they get from the programmes. •• How they impact upon worker effectiveness and productivity. Some of the key messages from this survey are highlighted below. The link between health, wellbeing and productivity The Towers Watson’s Global Workforce Study (2012) points to strong links between health, wellbeing and productivity. We find that days absent due to illness or injury are significantly related to engagement and health status. Companies with an engaged workforce with high wellbeing are found to have operating margins almost three times higher than companies with low engagement. Given the strong links between health, wellbeing and productivity, it is surprising to find just over one third of respondents to our survey view linking productivity to health improvement as essential to their health strategy. However, when asked what priorities are in place over the next two years a very positive 69% of respondents stated that their organisation planned to bolster their health and wellbeing programmes, with 15% planning to increase their support significantly. The short-term priorities for employers regarding the health, wellbeing and productivity of their workforces are examined in Figure 01. When considering strategies the focus of respondents was to raise employee engagement, create a workplace culture of health and improve mental health and general health awareness. Despite the emphasis placed on raising engagement, employers seem to be taking a view that their role is to educate workers about their workplace programmes, rather than motivate better behaviours. So whilst it is positive to see employers prioritising raising worker engagement, Introduction little focus on linking health and wellbeing to worker effectiveness is again evident. By viewing engagement and health as separate priorities, measurement becomes increasingly difficult. This is supported by the fact that nearly three-quarters of respondents were not able to measure return on investment associated with their health and wellbeing programmes. Our research shows that, whilst there is an increased focus on health and wellbeing, there seems to be a lack of clear goals and direction. This raises the question as to why companies are promoting a health and wellbeing agenda. Is it seen as part of being an employer of choice (offering a competitive advantage), or are companies simply following the herd and adopting comparable programmes to their competitors? Do companies recognise that improved health may help to manage absence, stress and employee performance and hence have a potentially significant commercial payback, or is it part of a corporate and social responsibility agenda which looks at the broader responsibilities of the organisation to its staff? Our experience suggests all of these motivations exist in the minds of UK employers. However, leading practice recognises the full breadth of influences health and wellbeing programmes have: the role in the employee deal; the influences on worker behaviours; and measurement of value to the business. Currently, only a minority of employers in the UK are examining employee behaviours and the payback to the employer as an important part of their organisation’s strategy. towerswatson.com2 Health, wellbeing and productivity
  3. 3. Health risk factors We see that many employers do not know or are unable to measure the extent to which their workforce faces health issues. Whilst around three-quarters could answer whether they felt that stress or work-life balance were issues for their workforce, around half could not respond regarding nutrition, obesity, smoking or physical exercise. Organisations that understand these factors are able to design and deliver health and wellbeing programmes that target the risk factors that are important to their business and best suit their employees’ wants and needs. There is then an opportunity for employers to better tailor their programmes and thereby deliver improved value for money to the business. Figure 02. Do you provide any of the following health and wellbeing programmes? 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% On-site health centre On-site gym facilities Individual or team challenges/campaigns Support for identified health and safety issues (for example, ergonomic assessments) Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) Smoking cessation programme Vaccinations (for example, flu) Web-based health information tools Stress management (resilience) Lifestyle behaviour coaching programmes Biometric screening (blood pressure, BMI) Health risk assessment/appraisal ■ In place ■ Planned for next 2 years ■ Not in place nor planned 16165858 2626 38385050 1212 5353 2828 1818 9292 77 778888 55 3737 2020 4343 1919 77 4040 1616 1818 4141 7070 1919 1111 3131 2828 6666 7878 6666 5454 3131 11 33 33 Programmes In Figure 02 we can see that employers currently concentrate on a narrow range of elements of the management of health and wellbeing. 93% of employers have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in place – or plan to introduce one within the next two years – to address mental health issues. Similar numbers are also observed with regard to support for identified health and safety issues and for web-based information tools; although given that organisations have indicated they are not focused on educating employees, this may simply be the provision of basic information on the programmes available. A better understanding of the health issues facing the company’s workforce would enable a targeted education programme and more focused spend on communication. Figure 02 suggests that provision is largely directed towards compliance and help at the point of need/illness, rather than a focus on prevention and encouraging healthy behaviours. Health, wellbeing and productivity
  4. 4. Towers Watson 21 Tothill Street Westminster London SW1H 9LL Towers Watson is represented in the UK by Towers Watson Limited and Towers Watson Capital Markets Limited. The information in this publication is of general interest and guidance. Action should not be taken on the basis of any article without seeking specific advice. To unsubscribe, email with the publication name as the subject and include your name, title and company address. Copyright © 2013 Towers Watson. All rights reserved. TW-EU-2013-30570. March 2013. Towers Watson is a leading global professional services company that helps organisations improve performance through effective people, financial and risk management. With 14,000 associates around the world, we offer solutions in the areas of benefit programmes, talent and reward programmes, and risk and capital management. Figure 03. Which of the following does your organisation measure/ analyse on a regular basis? 0% 30% 60% No formal measurement Employee biometrics or health status indicators Employee health risk reduction Disability management data Employee satisfaction with programmes Level of unplanned absence Employee participation in programmes 4747 4242 3030 1616 1515 2222 5151 Delivery and measurement Nearly half of organisations do not proactively manage their providers. Only 30% formally track quantitative outcomes associated with programmes and 25% require providers to share data. This again raises the question as to what is motivating employers to offer health and wellbeing programmes: if they are not being monitored and measured, then how effective can they be? Further evidence on the lack of monitoring by employers is found in Figure 03, where we observe around half of employers regularly analyse employee participation in programmes, the level of unplanned absence and employee satisfaction with programmes; but fewer than one-in-five regularly monitor the health risk factors that may be associated with employee performance. So, employers seem more focused on monitoring outcomes (either those associated with programmes or the costs of ill-health) and less focused on proactively tracking health risk factors. Financial returns cannot easily be achieved over a short period of time. Employers can, however, measure drivers of business performance such as benefit costs, absence, engagement and worker effectiveness. There are then a number of practical steps companies can take to start to measure the business benefits associated with their health and wellbeing programmes in the short term. An effective health and wellbeing programme needs to: focus on identified health issues and risks; have clear business objectives and goals; ensure an engaged workforce; change behaviours; and have effective reporting and monitoring to measure its success. Towers Watson is able to help companies develop health and wellbeing strategies by: •• Identifying and understanding the potential health risks. •• Conducting gap analyses of wellbeing programmes. •• Undertaking feasibility studies. •• Building strategic roadmaps. •• Developing and delivering the communications strategy. •• Implementing new programmes and changes to existing ones. •• Measuring and reviewing success. If you are considering developing your health and wellbeing programmes and would like assistance, please contact: Rebekah Haymes +44 20 7227 2290